By Tim Graham
PHOENIX -- Based on the fan reaction I see on Twitter, Facebook and in my email inbox, the prevailing theme about Tarvaris Jackson is that he must not have the wherewithal to learn the Buffalo Bills' playbook.
That's a totally unfair assessment, a pure guess from those struggling to find a good reason why the quarterback the Bills spent a seventh-round draft pick to acquire and are paying $1.75 million has been deactivated for every game.
For insight, I asked Bills coach Chan Gailey to address this unable-to-learn-the-playbook sentiment specifically. Here is Gailey's response Monday at the team's hotel in Phoenix:
"I don't think that is in any way true. He works every day with David [Lee] and learning the calls and stands back there, doing the mental gymnastics of playing the position. But until you see him take reps with our guys, with our receivers, throwing our routes and doing our reads with our protection calls, you don't know if he's got it. Mentally, it's easy to stand back there, but doing it when you got 3.8 seconds to get it all done, it's a little bit different. It wouldn't be fair to put him in there right now."
Jackson is in a bad spot because he was acquired a week before the regular season. Once the season commences, the starting quarterback gets almost all of the practice snaps, and the primary backup gets a handful.
Fans are curious about Jackson because the Bills obviously identified backup quarterback as an area of concern when they traded for him and cut Vince Young. The timing of the move also saved Tyler Thigpen's job.
With starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick playing erratically -- he has five touchdowns and no interceptions with a 112.1 passer rating in two victories, seven touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 68.7 passer rating in three losses -- many fans want him replaced by someone, but not Thigpen.
That makes Jackson's unavailability a warm topic.
"He's learning," Gailey said. "I mean, he can't get reps. That's the problem with being the third quarterback. You can't get reps in practice. There's just no way to get reps. I hate it for him. I hate it for us. There's just no way to get around it right now."
taggedRyan Fitzpatrick | Tarvaris Jackson | Tyler Thigpen | Vince Young